How to write your very own “How to” post, whether it be for your own blog or for others, whether esoteric or concrete in subject, is a big step in any writer/blogger’s career. This is a particular type of post which aims to teach the reader something new.
The P Word
In an age when anyone can publish, it certainly has become a dirty word. When you update your Twitter avatar, the message displayed is that you have successfully “published” it. And that’s just a picture, even a duck-faced selfie. This notion is ridiculous to people who take the p-word, I mean, publishing seriously. In this case, publishing refers to quality content which aims to change the reader’s point of view and inform, and if possible, to entertain. This is important to remember when writing your how-to post. Always be informed and this will be conveyed to the reader.
The first step to writing your “how to” article is to keep it short. This is standard when it comes to writing, especially blog posts, but it is even more apt when it comes to a “how to”. Losing your reader half way through a post such as this is detrimental. This is particularly risky with a topic such as “How to get free internet in South Africa”. So adding steps is always beneficial to entice the reader, like this one, Top 4 Ways to get Free Internet in South Africa, from the archive.
So formatting and ease of readability is even more essential than usual, like this:
Step 1 – Simplicity and keeping attention
It’s especially hazardous with a post such as “How to dye your hair with household materials”. If a reader were to be bored after the introduction, this could result in kaleidoscopic waves of frizzed and burned locks. Also, I will never use salad dressing as conditioner again.
Breaking it up into sections is one way of keeping the reader gripped. Also, make it relevant and do not deviate from the subject matter. Too many asides will distract the reader and result in a half successful how to.
Step 2 - Ownership
The next step is to own that title. Telling people not only what to do, but how to do it, is something where you cannot half commit.
Claim your name, and then your stake, in your chosen field. In this instance, for this blog, the subtitle “Helping South Africans with the Internet” is an example of a specific mission and creating content geared towards that statement. Example: “How to surf the internet” is not helpful; “Three ways to maximise your time online” is.
The film was called “How to lose a guy in 10 days” for a reason. We might have been subjected to Kate Hudson for an indeterminate amount of time otherwise, and we as a society cannot allow that (I’m actually a big fan of Ms Hudson)
I am an authority on this specific subject because I am young, African and a writer. So you have to know what you're talking about. And because a “how to” is all about spreading your own wisdom and shameless self-promotion, I present my own How to list from my own blog:
And that leads us to the final step…
Step 3 – Sharing is Caring
Advice will die on its own. It can only survive in a community, with sharing and passing on. Once you’ve realised what you’re good at and written a kick-ass blog post in your field extending your expertise to others, pay it forward and share it with others. Write content for other bloggers and they might return the favour. That way you get to reach a wider audience and you share your message with others who would not have seen it otherwise.
Written by Jerome Cornelius